On August 1st of this year, my family celebrated our first anniversary. A year before, my husband and I stood in court with our twin babies, and a judge declared our kids officially and lawfully “Bunkers.” The emotions of their adoption day were overwhelming – like the emotions of labor without all the physical labor. It was a day I treasure in my heart forever. Even though our children became our kids in our hearts the moment we held them in our arms eight months prior to their official adoption, making our family legally official on August 1st, 2014 was a momentous day to me.
The last year has flown by, and our first anniversary of that adoption day was here in no time. And we decided to make it a tradition to celebrate every year what we are now calling “Family Day” – the day we stood in court and our twins were legally adopted. This year we bought the kids a present and spent quality time together as a family on a trip to the beach. It was glorious, and we all had a blast.
Yet with the celebration comes reverence to their past.
We used to call it “Gotcha Day.” However, we like the term “Family Day” better as it signifies our unity as a family, but also allows them to mourn the loss of their previous family. Family Day can’t be all about the addition to our family; it has to be an acknowledgement of loss as well. We have a very special place in our hearts for our kids’ birth parents. Because, without them, we wouldn’t be a family. So we want to honor them alongside our celebration. And as the kids get older, we’ll follow their lead in the ways they want to honor their birth family as well. Be it lighting a candle, writing a letter, or whatever their hearts lead them to do – we want to be there to support them.
But every year, we want to take time to celebrate the special day our children became a part of our family as well. Much like a birthday, we’re saying, “I’M SO GLAD YOU WERE BORN INTO OUR FAMILY!” And yes, it’s in all caps. To take time to look through old photo books and relive memories we’ve made as a family. To give them a sentimental, special present we plan to give them every year. To tell them the special story of the day we met each other. And to pour so much love into their sweet, little souls. We could never imagine our family without them.
Most importantly, we want to find the tender balance between mourning their loss as adoptees and celebrating the day we became a family.